Walk Right In, Sit Right Down: Seating in the College English Literature Classroom

Seating arrangements in college English Literature courses can have an impact on the learning experience for the student. Students who had completed at least one college-level English literature course at a community college were asked about their experiences in four seating arrangements: traditional rows of seats, Socratic circle/seminar style, clusters/small table groups, and computer lab. Based on student responses to their experiences in transfer-level college English literature analysis courses, the results indicated that students by and large have had a very limited experience in terms of variety of seating arrangements, not only within a given classroom, but from course to course. Indeed, many students reported having experienced only a single type of seating arrangement in English courses. Furthermore, students were well aware of the triangular zone of interaction that is created at the front and center of a traditional rows classroom, as well as the zones of exclusion that also exist in that arrangement. Students indicated that the Socratic/seminar and the cluster/small table groups arrangements were most conducive to class-wide interaction, as well as small group interaction. Students asked for more interaction with the professor and between students, and they reported that in-class participation results in more overall engagement and that collaborative seating environments resulted in better grades.


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